In the “Arena”, a woman who fled Syria reports on her dangerous boat trip across the Mediterranean. Today she works at a school in Switzerland. The parties are currently arguing about the orientation of Swiss asylum policy and the role of the responsible Federal Councilor Baume-Schneider.
“When I got on the boat, I thought to myself: 90 percent of the time I won’t survive this trip.” Emotions ran high for Wiam Mohamad when she reported on her trip across the Mediterranean in the “Arena” on Friday. She fled from Syria to Switzerland at the end of 2015 with her husband, her brother and their son, who was only one and a half years old.
Her mother had tried to stop her from crossing. “She begged me and said: Please don’t cross the Mediterranean. But I knew: If I stay in Syria, I’ll die anyway.”
The politicians present in the “Arena” were impressed by her report. The tonality of the ensuing exchange of political blows could not have been more different than Mohamad’s stories.
The guests in the «Arena»:
- Mattea MeyerCo-President SP
- Marcel Detling, Vice President SVP
- Tiana Angelina MoserGroup President GLP
- Hans Peter PortmanNational Council FDP/ZH
Also in the studio:
- William Mohamedfled from Syria
Moderated by Sandro Brotz
SVP Vice-President Marcel Dettling attacked SP Co-President Mattea Meyer from the start: “Your policy strengthens the gangs of smugglers. You are responsible for people dying in the Mediterranean!» In addition, the SP Federal Councilor Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, who is responsible for the asylum dossier, is not doing anything to reduce the number of asylum applications.
“People are drowning in the Mediterranean because Europe is becoming more and more isolated,” replied Mattea Meyer. Nobody would flee voluntarily – people are threatened in their homeland. Baume-Schneider planned ahead and therefore wanted to set up additional containers to accommodate asylum seekers. But SVP and FDP would have prevented that. Meyer: “They make politics on the hump of the refugees.”
You have to tell the population straight: more and more economic refugees are coming to Switzerland.
FDP National Councilor Hans-Peter Portmann did not accept that. “You have to tell the population straight: More and more economic refugees are coming to Switzerland.” Switzerland must be more consistent when it comes to returning rejected asylum seekers. One must check whether rejected asylum seekers from Eritrea can be returned to a safe third country such as Rwanda. The containers, on the other hand, are not effective because there is a lack of personnel.
Out of a political motivation in the election year, the FDP weakens our asylum system together with the SVP
“Out of a political motivation in the election year, the FDP, together with the SVP, is weakening our asylum system,” criticized GLP parliamentary group leader Tiana Angelina Moser. More accommodation is needed in order to continue to be able to carry out accelerated asylum procedures – the latter are the “gold standard” in the asylum system. The deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda, on the other hand, is unworthy of a constitutional state.
SP and GLP also demanded that Switzerland also take in refugees in 2024 and 2025 as part of the UN resettlement program. Both the majority of the Council of States and the SVP and FDP had recently spoken out against it.
According to Portmann, however, the last word has not yet been spoken: “The FDP faction has not yet discussed it. We will work to find a good solution.” But it is also clear to SP co-president Meyer that catastrophes like those two weeks ago, when hundreds of people fleeing the Mediterranean Sea drowned, could not be completely prevented even with the resettlement program.
We don’t flee voluntarily – we just want to live in safety.
Wiam Mohamad listened spellbound. Today she works as a class assistant and dreams of becoming a teacher one day – like she was in Syria. She advises people fleeing not to choose the route across the Mediterranean. But they often have no choice: “We don’t flee voluntarily – we just want to live in safety.”